It was 20 years ago today…I covered Nirvana’s Bosnian Rape Victim Benefit with The Breeders, L7, and the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. I met Krist Novoselic and Jen Finch ( I already knew Michael Franti via James Bernard) that afternoon at the press conference in downtown San Francisco and went out to the Cow Palace with Billy Cohen for the show. It was the first time they played In Utero material in America. The album wasn’t completed yet. It wasn’t released until September ‘93. It seems low-key here, but to grasp how shocking the opening was you have to imagine you’ve never heard “Rape Me” before and you are at a benefit where you have been treated to information on the horror of the ongoing Bosnian Crisis regarding rape being used as a war tactic in the ongoing conflict. Then Nirvana appears and apparently begin the show with the song that has turned the music world on its ear-Smells Like Teen Spirit- but no he’s singing a song about Rape that has the whiff of Positively Fourth Street’s insider invective—” my favorite inside source” etc. This is how the biggest band in the world returned to America where they hadn’t played since they’d become a sensation—the album was still on the rise from street level to the stratosphere during the 91-92 tour. Now Kurt was the rock star with a controversial marriage and a newborn and minders to monitor his drug use etc.
I still remember the glee with which I first reacted to “Frances Farmer will have her Revenge on Seattle”—the force of the line “she’ll come back as fire, burn all the liars, leave a blanket of ash on the ground.” Sliver was marvelous and “School and “Dive” were as always showstoppers.
Live, the sideways fall into the drum kit from atop his amp stack was shocking even if you knew destruction of some sort was coming.
I’m going to add a link to the Archived Spin magazine that carried my review right after this post.
For historians, the versions of Frances Farmer and Serve the Servants are the first time they were ever played live anywhere.